Manchester United and Liverpool are big rivals, and over the years, both have signed some truly great players.
In recent years, it has been United who have been able to recruit the best players in the transfer market, thanks to their continued success in the Premier League, the presence of Sir Alex Ferguson and the assurance to footballers that they would be playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
However, this summer there have been suggestions that United could struggle to bring in the players they want, while Liverpool are said to be attractive to footballers because of their rise in status and the Champions League football they can offer.
So if a player is approached by both United and Liverpool, which club he would choose? Below are the reasons for and against joining the two English outfits.
Reasons for joining Manchester United
1) Biggest club in England
United may have finished seventh under (the sacked) David Moyes in 2013-14, but they still remain the biggest club in England. Players who grew up dreaming of playing for the Red Devils wouldn’t just throw away the chance of representing them because of one bad season. True, they may not be playing in the Champions League next term, but they can rest assured that they will be soon.
2) Louis van Gaal
The Dutchman may be a figure who divides opinion, but he is also someone who is widely respected. He made Bastian Schweinsteiger the player he is today, created the Barcelona team that has gone on to win trophies after trophies over the past 10 or so years (if you don’t agree, then check this open letter from Victor Valdes) and also laid the foundations of the current Bayern Munich team. He is a strict disciplinarian, but he is also someone who has worked with some of the greatest footballers of all time.
Back in the summer of 2012, Robin van Persie claimed that he joined United instead of Manchester City because “the little boy” inside of him told him to do so. That same summer Shinji Kagawa left then German champions Borussia Dortmund for the Red Devils, with coach Jurgen Klopp later admitting that he was unable to convince the Japan international from realising his dream. The same holds true for thousands of footballers all over the world. If Manchester United come calling, it is hard to say no.
Reasons for not joining Manchester United
1) No Champions League football
United will bounce back in the 2014-15 campaign, but no one can give 100% guarantee that they will finish in the top four or win the Premier League, especially given how competitive the title race is going to be next season. All footballers dream of playing in the Champions League, and given that the period of time in which a player is on top of his game is quite small, it means that every season counts. A year away from playing in world football’s biggest club competition might not appear too enticing to many.
2) Rebuilding process
Over the years, players have moved to United because they knew that they were going to develop and win trophies under Ferguson. The 2014-15 campaign is going to be a rebuilding period: would a top-class player at the peak of his powers move to a club that is about to go through a transition period, even if it be for one season?
Reasons for joining Liverpool
1) A club on the rise
Liverpool have just enjoyed a sensational and hugely successful 2013-14 season in which they have finished as high as second. As a matter of fact, they could have even won the Premier League title. The Reds are a club on the rise and although next season will be tougher, at least they have re-established themselves in the top four of the English top flight.
2) Brendan Rodgers
Under Rodgers, Liverpool have cultivated a clear way of playing. In 2012-13, the Reds did not achieve success, but at least the players knew how they were expected to play on the pitch. In 2013-14, Liverpool went from strength to strength, and even when they could have played defensively, they chose to stick to their philosophy. For attack-minded players and youngsters, Rodgers is the perfect manager. True, the Northern Irishman himself is on a learning curve, but players do have the possibility of growing with the club and with the manager.
3) Champions League football
The guarantee of playing Champions League football for next season will attract many players, including those who would have otherwise snorted at the proposition of joining the 2005 European champions. True, many of the players might just use Liverpool as a stepping stone – after all, if after a good campaign they are headhunted by Real Madrid, then it would be really tough for the Reds to keep hold of them – but at least this summer top-class players will look at the Merseyside outfit and won’t dismiss them rightaway.
Reasons for not joining Liverpool
1) False dawn?
Liverpool are a big club, no doubt, and have just finished a brilliant season, but in the end it could be just that: one brilliant season. Didn’t Tottenham Hotspur finish in the top four not so long ago? It would be foolhardy to suggest that Liverpool's bubble will burst next campaign, but if Luis Suarez were to leave Merseyside (yes, he has said on many occasions that he is happy in Liverpool, but would he really be able to say no if Madrid do officially make an offer?), then can one realistically see them as one of the title challengers? There are a number of talented young players and Steven Gerrard is still going strong at 34, but with Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and United all set to reinforce themselves in the summer, Liverpool will find next season far tougher than this term.
2) Not as big as United
United are the biggest club in England and one of the biggest in the world. There are no two ways about it. One poor season does not take away the fact that they are the Premier League’s most successful team and have been graced by legendary footballers. As big as Liverpool are, in the modern era (specifically since the turn of the century), they cannot compete with the Red Devils when it comes to prestige and esteem. Make no mistake, Liverpool are a massive club – one of the biggest in the world, in fact – but when compared to United, they fall short.